How to narrow down your college list

Krista Mehrl, Views Editor

Hundreds of colleges make it a priority to send you postcards and pamphlets in the mail, first boasting about their college and then claiming that “you are the exact student we are looking for to join this great tradition.”  Along with forty-some-thousand other students, this seems a little strange that they would pick you amongst the crowd.

It’s not unusual for colleges to practice selling themselves for intrigued high school seniors. They tend to do everything in their power to cover up their flaws by bragging about the few good points and programs they have to offer.

When seven or so colleges all appeal the same, how do you go about narrowing down the list during application season? Here are some tips:

One: Visit the campus. Some schools look a lot better in postcards or in their online photo gallery than they do in person. Even though looks may not be the most important factor, it is certainly something to consider, especially if you are planning on living on-campus.

Two: Explore their majors and programs. This is an incredibly crucial part of the process if your major is unique. In other words, not all schools may offer the exact program you are looking for. Furthermore, investigate what majors the school is known for and what internship and career opportunities they offer within the program.

Three: Research admissions. Past admission statistics can help give a hint to what type of student population the school caters to. Be sure to check out the average admitted ACT and SAT scores, as well as the average class GPA and class rank. Apply to a school that fits your intelligence; sometimes it’s profitable to try and apply to a school even if you don’t think that you’ll be accepted.

Four: Stop and think about location. Many schools are located in the middle of urban areas (like Columbia and Roosevelt in Chicago), and some are out in the country (like Illinois State in Normal, Illinois). Even if Arizona State University may have a beautiful campus blanketed in 80 degree sunshine (even in the winter), don’t consider it until you have thought about components such as airfare, time, and other expenses.

Five: Go to There, you’ll find a search engine that only searches colleges with your distinct, pre-entered criteria. This sometimes unveils new possibilities. Each college has its own page with valuable statistics.

Although each college may seem great on the surface, dive deeper and ask questions. These questions and considerations may lead you to cross a school off your lengthy list. Keep searching and narrowing, and eventually you’ll find a school that you can wholly picture yourself attending.